Obama’s (Axelrod’s) Choreographed Media Blackout

May 20, 2010

The “most open and transparent” president in American history is still playing hide-and-seek with the press, and even the liberal New York Times has begun to notice it, as indicated by this headline: “Obama Turns His Back On the Press.”

If the mainstream media were not so ideologically wedded to Obama’s big-government agenda, they would be doing more than pointing out his secrecy and hypocrisy with the occasional headline. They’d be skewering him daily for his marked inaccessibility. Not having a genuine news conference since July would be remarkable for the least transparent administration, let alone one that made openness a signature campaign issue.

But not everyone in the leftist press is exercising such restraint about Obama’s media blackout. CBS News’ Chip Reid decided to ask Obama a question following his signing of the Freedom of the Press Act. Doing his best Hugo Chavez, Obama said, “I’m not doing a press conference today, but we’ll be seeing you guys during the course of this week.”

HotAirPundit posted a video of Reid explaining that he asked the question because the irony of Obama’s signing the Freedom of the Press Act while rarely fielding questions “in impromptu situations” was “too rich to resist.” Reid asked, “Mr. President, in the interest of press freedom, might you consider a couple of questions on BP?”

When Reid took Obama up on his noncommittal pledge and tried to ask him a question at the Rose Garden “news conference” with the president of Mexico a few days later, Obama ignored him.

This should surprise no one. A case could be made that Obama’s never had a news conference that he hasn’t largely controlled. He and his handlers, from David Axelrod to Rahm Emanuel, understand the importance of managing the press to control the message in the interest of advancing the leftist agenda.

They know that their statist goal of greatly expanding government depends on Obama’s not revealing any more than necessary how radical to the core he actually is because true transparency about his real agenda would be suicidal.

But his handlers also realize, even if Obama doesn’t, that the less scripted he is the more difficult it is to manage the message. And they understand that he ought not be allowed to venture too far from the teleprompter very often, lest he demonstrate that his manufactured reputation both for eloquence and wisdom are, well, manufactured. Oh, yes, and don’t let me forget those manufactured bipartisan myths, but surely no one is clueless enough to pay any attention to those anymore.

There’s just no telling what he might say off the cuff, whether it’s an awkwardly inappropriate “shout-out” to Dr. Joe Medicine Crow before delivering curiously disconnected remarks on the Fort Hood massacre or telling Joe the Plumber we need to spread the wealth around a little or saying, “At a certain point, you’ve made enough money.”

But Obama’s repeated gaffes tell me that he’s too narcissistic to fully grasp that he often undermines his own cause when off-script because he can’t refrain from playing his hand.

But I would bet that in their inner-circle huddles, Obama’s handlers have somehow persuaded him — because he always must be the boss — to studiously avoid unscripted moments like the plague, leave the message scripting to the choreographers, and deal with any press blowback through damage control. That’s a much lesser evil than getting off-message.

In one of his extemporaneous moments at Hampton University, he unwittingly disclosed the administration’s MO, not that discerning observers didn’t already know it. He openly lamented the advent of the “24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter.”

He might as well have just directly said it: “I don’t like the free flow of information in the new media, which tends to impede the advancement of my agenda, which depends on keeping the public in the dark.”

That is exactly the philosophy of his appointed “diversity czar,” Mark Lloyd, who idolizes Hugo Chavez and believes freedom of speech must be subordinated to the left’s “greater” societal goals, and of his Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan, who complained about the “overabundance” of ideas that might require government action to “un-skew.”

Think about it: Without Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the new media shining the light of truth daily, populist lies, such as that the Arizona law is racist and discriminatory, might go unchallenged.

We are dealing with a totalitarian mindset in this administration, and it might sound more civil to candy coat that fact, but it doesn’t serve the interests of truth or of the nation.